Falcons O-Line Preparing for Bucs' Stars

Watch out for these storylines as the Atlanta Falcons prepare to take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in just a few days during Primetime Thursday Night Football.

One look at the Bucs injury report so far this week and you might view it as a defensive line depth chart.

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On it are star DT Gerald McCoy, who broke his hand in Sunday's game, and newly-acquired DE Michael Johnson, who missed that game as he recovers from an ankle injury.

Backup Da'Quan Bowers (abdomen) was also listed. Already on injured reserve and lost for the season is defensive end Adrian Clayborn.

That knowledge, however, isn't changing a thing about how the Falcons are preparing for Thursday night's game. Quarterback Matt Ryan said the defensive line is the standout unit of the Bucs defense and the offensive line is taking that to heart in their preparations so far this week.

"You prepare for their best," right tackle Lamar Holmes said Tuesday. "We're going out there preparing like we're going to get their best shot, their best punch every play. Even though some guys are down, if we prepare like we're going against the best every time, you'll be ready no matter what comes your way."

Should McCoy not be able to play, Bowers or Ankeem Spence would be the likely replacements. Spence played 70 percent of the snaps in Tampa's Week 2 matchup against St. Louis while Bowers played 59 percent.

At defensive end should Johnson be out, Larry English, who was waived by the Bucs as part of final cuts before the regular season and then re-signed after Clayborn went on IR, could be the potential beneficiary of those snaps.

"A few of them played last week, so you get a little bit of film but those guys are kind of the dangerous guys because they're trying to prove themselves every week," center Joe Hawley said. "They have great energy when they go out there and you don't really get a chance to scout them, so those are the dangerous ones you've got to worry about."

The Falcons offensive line will try to improve on giving up two sacks of Matt Ryan against the Bengals last week.

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